Tag: Shelly Laurenston

Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 30, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #3
Also in this series: The Undoing
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

Another Call of Crows book, and another review from me gushing about how much I love this series!

We finally get Erin Amsel’s book! For those who’ve haven’t been reading along I won’t waste time with too much summary, but the very abbreviated version is that the Viking Clans, who are each in service to a different Nordic god/goddess, have to work together to stop the rogue goddess Gullveig from bringing about Ragnarok (the Viking end of the world). It turns out that the only one who even might be able to stop her is Erin, and she has to go on a quest to get the tools she needs to do it. She’s aided by Stieg Engstrom, a grumpy, fierce Viking who REALLY doesn’t like Erin (or at least that’s what he thinks). Erin and Stieg have to journey to the very edge of hell while the Crows and the rest of the Clans have to prepare for a battle to save the world.

Erin, as we are repeatedly told by literally everyone in this series including Erin herself, is a dick. She loves to stir the pot, never hesitates to speak her mind, and has basically little filter between her brain and her mouth. She isn’t  exactly malicious, but nor does she particularly care if what she says or does hurts anyone’s feelings. It has ensured nearly every other Clan can’t stand Erin, and even her Sister Crows want to murder her more often than not. (Don’t be alarmed though–pretty much everyone wants to, or explicitly tries to, murder someone else in these books at some point! These are violent, crazy fairytales!) I have totally enjoyed Erin right from the start, and it was great to see her own story. She is just so damn hilarious.

The things that I loved about the first two books in the series were what I loved most about this one, too. First and foremost, the female friendships are SO AWESOME. These women have each other’s backs no matter what. I especially liked that it’s clear by this book that the three heroines of the series (Kera, Jace, and Erin) have a particular bond, and watching them try to protect and support each other was so great. I also love the Norse mythology of the series. Probably my favorite is when we get to “meet” the gods and goddesses, like Odin and Tyr. They are so self-absorbed and ridiculous–Laurenston has taken all the outrageous behaviors from the myths and imagined the kind of being that would do such things. It is a total riot and so clever. The secondary cast of characters is also pretty amazing and add so much richness and comedy to the story.

And yet…there were a few things that bothered me. First, I wanted to learn a bit more about Erin. I wanted to know WHY she’s such a dick. We hear a little about her family and her death, but there’s just not much explanation. I know, it’s probably unfair of me to start wishing for more depth, because that’s not what this series is about. I just found Erin so fascinating and fun that it was hard not to want more. I also didn’t really understand Stieg. Frankly he was kind of forgettable even in the earlier books, and I still felt that way about him by the end of this one. Erin does certainly soften towards him in her own Erin-way, but I wanted a touch more to the romance, even though I know that’s not really what these books do.

Despite wanting a bit more from this book, I still had an amazingly good time reading it. It is funny, clever, and exciting, and I never regret spending time in the world of the Crows.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars

1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,


Guest Review: The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

Posted April 7, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Undoing by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #2
Also in this series: The Unyielding
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A risk worth taking…

No one would ever accuse Jace Berisha of having an easy life—considering her husband…you know…killed her. But that was then! Now she fights for mighty Viking gods with the spectacular and vicious Crows.

But things are turning very bad, very quickly because a vengeful, ancient goddess has come into the world with just one thing on her mind—ending it. And the only way they can hope to stop her is if the Crows join forces with their one-time enemies, the Protectors. A Viking Clan created to do nothing but kill every Crow they see.

Thankfully, Protector Ski Eriksen is a peace loving kind of guy. Because the woman he is desperately trying to get close to is the beautiful and not-very-chatty Jace. Battling Nordic clans? Unkillable goddesses? Jace’s mean-spirited dog? None of these things would ever get in the way of a true Viking!

The second in the Call of Crows series, The Undoing, was as much fun as I was hoping it would be!

This book takes us back to the world of the Crows, an all-female bunch of murderous assassins brought back to life to serve the goddess Skuld. The heroine this time is Jace, the Crows’ resident berserker who becomes uncontrollable when a rage takes hold, but is painfully quiet and introverted the rest of the time. When Danski “Ski” Eriksen hires her for some translation work, it’s no hardship as he is intrigued by and attracted to her. Ski is from the Viking Protector clan. The Protectors are basically the librarians and archivists and nerdy weirdos of the Nordic world, and Jace is totally down with that! Unlike her sister Crows, the Protectors are quiet and revere books and learning (though they can still kick ass in a fight!). Jace and her puppy immediately fit in with the Protectors, and the job gives Jace a new purpose. Unfortunately, strange things start happening in the world, and it becomes clear that the evil Gullveig the Crows thought they defeated in Book 1 is still there and plotting to end the world. It looks like the clans are going to have to work together to end the threat.

Jace is such a great heroine. She HATES commotion and constant chatter, so living in a giant house full of the loudest, chatteriest women around is not easy for her. It was so adorable to see her fit in with the Protectors, who could happily sit reading all day long in silence. During one scene that had me cry-laughing, Jace actually jumps out of a moving car just to avoid small talk with Ski! Now THAT’S introverted. When she opens up to Ski about her life before the Crows, you realize how horrible her history is and why it would make her the way she is, though. She has a hidden strength that even her sister Crows don’t all recognize.

And let’s talk about Ski, because he’s pretty yummy too. Unlike his fellow Protectors, he actually has to get out of the house and deal with others, so he’s developed way more people and life skills than any of them. But he still can comfortably communicate with his introverted, quiet, nerdy brothers, which is what makes him the perfect match for Jace. He doesn’t talk down to her or patronize her–he too loves talking about books and history and all kinds of trivia, and he uses that as a bridge to make her more comfortable. Plus he wears glasses and has hot Viking sexxxing abilities. What’s not to love? As in Book 1, the romance is not the focus–it shares billing with a bunch of other storylines. Because of Jace’s past and because of her introversion, she and Ski move a little slow at first, but once they get together they are such a lovely team. 

The larger story arc about Gullveig and her attempts to bring Ragnarok are exciting and I am 100% hooked. (There’s no cliffhanger, but the larger storyline is not resolved yet.) We actually get to meet some of the gods here and it’s hilarious, like Odin (who has a thing for strippers with huge boobs) and Thor (who is a whiny, insecure manchild). I love Laurenston’s take on these familiar characters.

This was a very funny and very enjoyable read.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Reading Order:

The Unleashing
The Undoing

four-half-stars

0 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Guest Review: The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

Posted April 22, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

The Unleashing by Shelly LaurenstonJen’s review of The Unleashing (Call of Crows #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

Until recently, I’d never been much of a paranormal reader, but in an effort to branch out I’ve been reading, and enjoying, more PNRs. I’m not an expert in the sub-genre, but I had heard very good things about Shelly Laurenston. When I saw she had a new series out I decided to give it a shot. Wow, am I glad I did because I loved this book.

This is a complicated story, partly because it’s doing the world building for the series, which is based on Nordic mythology. (The author’s note at the beginning explains she based it all on real stories but gave them her own twist.) The heroine is Kera Watson, former Marine and recently murdered coffee shop employee. Yep, before the book even opens Kera is murdered, but she has been brought back to life to become a member of the all-female Crows. The Crows are one of the Viking clans serving the Nordic gods, and they are the only ones who are made, not born, into their clan. The sister-Crows, as they call themselves, are loud, opinionated, antagonistic, and very violent, but smart, loyal, and totally hilarious. (No really!) Crows are basically the assassins, called in when their patron goddess Skuld needs somebody killed. As a former Marine and protector, Kera struggles to accept this new role and the world she knew nothing about, and she struggles to get along with the rowdy and disorganized Crows. Fortunately, she has help in the form of Ludvig Rundstrom (Vig). He is a member of the Ravens, which is an all-male Viking clan of fighters and protectors. He teaches her about their world and helps her learn the skills she needs to thrive. Everyone is put to a test when an ancient evil gets resurrected, and Kera must learn to accept her Crow role so she can help defend the world.

I love so much about this book, but my favorite thing is that it is very, very funny. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud so much while reading a book. When it started, though, I was worried it wasn’t the book for me. It is incredibly violent, which isn’t normally my style. The Crows are mean and obnoxious, and I just kept thinking that Kera was in a yucky, impossible situation. But after a while, I realized that the violence is so over-the-top that it has a dark humor. And the horrible jerky Crows end up revealing themselves to be complicated but ultimately loyal friends. They are crass, rude, and bloodthirsty (seriously, stay away if you’re easily offended), but, again, hilarious. Here’s an example from a conversation some of the Crows have after Kera gets into a fight with her mentor, Erin:

“You kicked her in the cunt. Trust me, the last thing that girl wants is some Viking pounding away on top of her.”

With everyone starting at her and looking disgusted, Erin reminded them, “There’s always anal.”

That’s when they all walked away from her, leaving her alone in the room.

I also loved the relationship between Vig and Kera. Vig is freaking adorable. As Kera discovers, he actually had a crush on her for months and had been visiting her coffee shop just to see her, but he was so massively shy that he never worked up the nerve to talk to her. He has a reputation among the clans as being frightening and fierce and one of the most brutal warriors around, and he is…on the battlefield. But outside of battle, he’s shy and awkward and sweet, like a gentle, bearded, sexy giant. The romance is lovely, but it’s not the most important thing in the book either. Kera’s journey (and the world building) is equally important, and she’s a wonderful character. She’s described as being of mixed race, as are many of the Crows. She’s a warrior, but she also has strong principles. I enjoyed seeing her learn about the world and learn to depend on her sister-Crows.

Honestly, it is just so COOL to have a series centered around a group of female warriors. As I said above, I don’t read tons of PNR so maybe there are some other great examples out there (and if so, tell me in the comments!), but most of what I’ve read has been about groups of men. It’s great to see a group of women being the violent, ass-kicking ones for a change. The Crows aren’t sweet and loving–they’re tough, they’re harsh, but they’d die for each other. They make no apologies for being assassins, and while they don’t kill indiscriminately, they aren’t exactly “good guys” because they work for gods/goddesses that aren’t clearly “good” either. It’s fun and interesting and I want more!

The book isn’t perfect. There are some instances where it felt like rules in the world were bent only when convenient. Some parts feel a bit info-dumpy, though I overlooked it because this is a complex world and there’s a lot to learn. It was hard to keep all the names and relationships straight, and I expect it will take several books before it’s fleshed out. Still, it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a book as much as I did this one, and I can’t wait to read the future installments.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Kensington. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

0 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Review: Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bite Me by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Tracy
Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Pride series #9
Published by Kensington Books
Publication Date: March 25th 2014
Genres: Humorous, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life's irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad's untimely and unexplained demise.

That's where Vic Barinov comes in--or his house does. Vic can't step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he'll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge. . .

Vic Barinov – tiger/bear hybrid shifter – has been given an assignment to help find a man by the name of Frankie Whitlan. He is wanted for a ton of crimes but the shifter protection agencies have been told to back off finding this man. As Vic works freelance he doesn’t have to follow those dictates. He uses his friend, Livy, who is a Honey Badger shifter, and comes from a family of thieves, to get into Whitlan’s daughters apartment to see if they can find a lead on Whitlan. What Livy finds is her father, shifted into his honey badger form, stuffed.

Livy is livid and determined to take down the man who did this to her father. She recruits her entire family and Vic and they go after Whitlan. While all of that is going on Vic and Livy, who have been friends for a while, get closer…start sleeping together…and then fall in love.

That seems like such a basic description of the book but the real story is Livy, Vic and her family. They’re so crazy it’s amusing to read about them. Livy is kind of what you would think of as an anti-heroine when you imagine a romance novel. She’s brash, rough, tough, foul-mouthed, doesn’t like to be touched randomly, and hates to be nice to people. She’s an independent soul and an artist. Vic is kind and caring, soft spoken (for the most part) and a really good guy. Put these two together, let Vic’s tiger side come out and they’re hot, sexy and explosive together. They’re so opposite but they get along so well and I loved the pairing. You truly have to appreciate Laurenston’s humor in this one as it’s definitely sarcasm at its best.

Livy and Vic are really just part of the books equation. Add in her crazy (and I do mean CRAZY) family, Vic’s friend Shen, characters from previous books and it all adds up to one hell of an entertaining story.

This is one I’m very happy that I didn’t miss out on and one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Shelly Laurenston

four-stars

0 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,


What I Read Last Week

Posted March 3, 2014 by Tracy in Features | 1 Comment

Greetings!

How ya’ll doin’? Did you have a great weekend? I hope so.

My week last week was pretty quiet, if I remember correctly. My life has been pretty boring lately – I have to say I enjoy that sometimes. lol

My girls played in their bell choir this past Sunday – 2 pieces. Here are the videos if you’re interested. I think they’re both doing a wonderful job and they love playing, which I love. 

(My girls are..second from the left and 5th from the left.) 

 

(My girls are on the left table 1st and second from the right.)

 

Ok, on to what I read this past week:

I started off the week with A Lady by Any Other Name by Jennifer Kitchens. This story is about a young woman running from her evil brother when he promises her in marriage to an old disgusting man. On his deathbed her father had told her that he wasn’t her real father and gave her clues as to who the real father was. Nicole figures it out and goes to talk to her real fathers family hoping that they’ll take her in. What she finds is unexpected but then she’s sent to London to wait for proof of her parents marriage. She then falls in love with the man she’s staying with. The story was good if not a bit too busy – too many story lines floating about. The romance happened quickly with the hero and heroine going from what looked like 2 people who might have an attraction for each other to “I love you.” I just didn’t think they were at that point yet. Anyway the story still worked which was good. 3.25 out of 5

The Blind Wolf boxed set by Aubrey Rose is 4 stories following the romance and lives of Julia and Damien. Damien is a wolf shifter and finds out that Julia is his mate – but she’s full human which never happens. The story unfolds from there. Though not romance heavy it could get very emotional at times. I’ll post my review of this one this week. 3.5 out of 5

Disarm: The Complete Novel by June Gray was originally a serial. This is actually all 6 stories in the serial wrapped up in one and I’m so glad I read it this way. The story is a friends to lovers story involving Elsie and Henry. They finally get together after many years of friendship but then have to face Henry’s deployment to Afghanistan and Henry’s personality change when he returns. There’s a whole lot more that goes on and it was definitely worth reading. I’ll post my review of this one this week. 4 out of 5

Next was The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch. This is the first in a new series called Scandalous Highlanders. Ranulf is a highlander and proud to be one. He ends up chasing his 18 year old runaway sister to London when he refuses to let her have a Season. The family she stays with has an older daughter, Charlotte, who Ranulf is highly attracted to. Unfortunately Ranulf’s mother was English and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Ranulf has prejudices against the English but Charlotte puts him in his place. The story is about the pair working out their differences as Charlotte abhors violence and Ranulf lives with it daily and thinks it’s ok. Ranulf decides to change his thinking but he’s not sure if it’s enough to capture Charlotte’s heart. It was a great story and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. 4 out of 5

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston is the story of Livy Kowalski, a Honey Badger shifter, and Vic Barinov, a hybrid shifter that is half bear and half tiger. Livy’s father is found dead and had obviously been murdered. Livy and her family decide that the person behind it all needs to pay. While this is happening Livy and Vic, who were friends before, start sleeping together which ends up turning to love. There’s a whole lot that goes on and it all wrapped up into a great story. I’ll post my review for this one later this month. 4 out of 5 

Last for the week was A Night With the Bride by Kate McKinley. This is the 3rd book in the By Invitation Only series. The story involves Nicholas, a duke who has basically been in seclusion and is thought to be mad, and Gabriella. Gabriella takes on a dare with her friends that she can get the duke to kiss her. It turns into so much more. I’ll post my review of this novella later this week. 4 out of 5

 

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Everybody’s Got A Story by Heather Wardell  

Happy Reading!

1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,